THE WORLD’S GREENEST BUILDINGS #10

This article is the tenth and final part of a multi-part series, where I have been looking into the world’s greenest buildings. It is based off the book of the same name by Yudelson and Meyer.

I found the book to be hugely inspirational when I read it, and it comes highly recommended form me. If this shortlist of my 10 favourites has whetted your appetite, I strongly recommend that you get yourself a copy. Despite being published in 2013, there is still a lot of good ideas and strategies to create sustainable buildings to be found inside.

Zero Energy Building, Building and Construction Authority

This week we will be looking at the aptly named Zero Energy Building, which is occupied by the Building and Construction Authority of Singapore.

This building stood out for its stunning focus on creating a zero energy building in the tropics and for the integration of a number of passive and active features to help make this possible.

Like other buildings that made it into the book, you only get results like this if sustainability is a primary focus at the outset. The occupier, the Singapore Building and Construction Authority is the government agency responsible for delivering on the nation’s 2030 green building targets. So it was important for their flagship development to have the strongest sustainability credentials possible.

It was the first net-zero energy building in Singapore and in terms of domestic certifications, it was awarded the Singapore Green Mark Platinum certification.

Three passive design strategies were used to minimise energy demand, these include minimizing heat transmittance into the building, bringing daylighting deep into the space and the use of natural ventilation techniques.

Gazing was also a primary focus, to reduce energy demand. Several types were used as the building was being used as a laboratory for technologies that were at the time extremely new. Sadly, years later, many new buildings are being designed and built without these technologies being added to them.

The multiple glazing technologies deployed on the Zero Energy building include: electrochromic glass, building integrated PV, double glazed units and clear double glazed units. There has been significant development in all of these areas recently and they are all deserving of a dedicated article in themselves.

Three daylighting techniques used include mirror ducts, light shelves and light pipes. These all serve to maximise the amount of natural light that is available within the building, so that less electricity is required for lighting.

These integrate nicely with the active features, which automatically adjust the lighting intensity according to daylighting levels. Additionally, smart lighting sensors throughout the building ensure that artificial lighting is only used in rooms when they are occupied.

The building comes equipped with 1,540 sq m of photovoltaic panels, which are mounted both to the roof and to the façade. Amazingly, these arrays generate 203,000 kWh per year, which thanks to the incredible efficiency of the building, is more electricity than the building consumes. This allows the building to feed excess electricity to the grid and is why this is a real zero energy building.

All of the active and passive techniques combined mean that the building is able to report an energy intensity of only 41 kWh/sq m. But when its domestic electricity production is taken into account, which is 45 kWh/sq m, we can see that the building in fact has an energy surplus with the grid.

What you need to know   

This article is the final part in a multi-part series where I have been picking out my favourite buildings from Yudelson and Meyer’s book The World’s Most Sustainable Buildings.

Today was the turn of looking at the Zero Energy Building in Singapore. Without intending to, I saved my favourite for last.

This building is remarkable for its incredibly low energy intensity and for its domestic energy production, allowing it to be self-sufficient. This is particularly remarkable in the tropics, where the high temperatures ordinarily result in high air conditioning loads and associated energy intensity.  

There is a lot that can be learned today in late 2020 from studying the Zero Energy Building in Singapore.

Thank you for reading,

By Barnaby Nash

Please share your thoughts in the comments section below, or reach out to me on social media. What do you think makes a building a sustainable building?

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I can be reached on LinkedIn and on Twitter @FollowBarnaby

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